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February 26, 2010
Violence could result from call-in programmes

Commissioner of Police Keith Miller is of the view that radio talk shows should be regulated, as the “recklessness” of some call-in programmes could result in violence.{{more}}

The Commissioner, who was speaking on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Pan Against Crime programme in Georgetown last Saturday, February 20, said what he sees as a growing trend on these programmes may eventually lead to criminal activity.

Miller said that broadcasting control standards are necessary because of what he referred to as the “reckless practice” that has developed on the airwaves, “in particular two radio stations”.

“From time to time as a police force, we monitor these call-in programmes, and we have noticed a number of the DJs, hosts and callers use these programmes as a means of making mischief, abusing, insulting and maligning people’s character and their reputation.

“There are persons … who are tolerant and who have financial means to seek legal redress. However, there are those who may not be so tolerant or have the financial means to take legal action against the disc jockeys, and some hosts and callers, whose voices they may believe that they have recognized, and they want to take the law into their own hands; taking into account that a number of criminal acts, including assault, wounding, murders etc, are triggered by ‘them say’, ‘it is alleged’ or ‘it is rumored’ etc.”

“Fortunately to date we do not have any evidence that any acts of violence committed (were) as a result of what was said over the airwaves. However, prevention is most necessary,” he added.

The Commissioner noted that there is a lack of journalistic qualifications among a number of the talk show hosts/ DJs, and the absence of a minimum requirement for broadcasting standards in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which he said is needed here.

“A check shows that a number of persons who are allowed to host call-in programmes are not trained journalists, but mere disc jockeys in most part.”

He said that efforts are being made to research the standard journalism practices of countries in CARICOM with regard to their broadcasting.

“It is very fearful that if broadcasting standards are not put in place, the rum shop, street mentality type of brawl which leads to violence may be perpetrated as a result of the recklessness which comes from some of these call in programmes … ,” Miller said.

“Just recently in the Mesopotamia district, a young man was gunned down in the street. As a police force, we are still investigating what triggered that shooting. From our standpoint we believe something terrible went wrong,” Miller commented.

“…I think our society is becoming too reckless, hence the reason I believe there is a need for broadcasting standards…. One of these days you will understand what I am saying when you yourself become a victim,” the COP said.

To date there are 11 FM radio stations operating in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The first FM radio station began operating here in 1997. (JJ)